Having secured City Council approval of a site plan for an addition to the Aspirus Clinic in Rhinelander, the health care organization is anxious to get started on the project, Rob Fabich, Aspirus director of regional development, told the River News
in a recent interview.
A grounding breaking for the addition, which will almost double the size of the current structure, is scheduled to take place later this month, Fabich said. The City Council signed off on the site plan Aug. 12.
“We’re actually getting ready to get started on that project here in September,” Fabich said. “We’ll be adding 21,000 square feet to that (existing building). Our plan is to get the utilities and everything moved here in September and the footings in by the end of October and we’ll be constructing all through the winter.”
A formal groundbreaking ceremony is set for Sept. 20, he added.
While the main purpose of the addition is to provide much-needed office space for both visiting specialists and staff members assigned to the clinic, it will also create additional space for patients to be seen, Fabich said.
“What this addition will do is add an additional 21 exam rooms into the new building, which will be designated for specialty care,” Fabich explained. “Currently we’re trying to fit all of the rotating specialists into our primary care space in the existing clinic,and I don’t have many exam rooms to accommodate their demand.”
When the addition is complete, the existing building will be remodeled to add an additional 15 exam rooms dedicated to primary care, Fabich added.
“It’s a win-win for specialty care and a win-win for our primary care goals, as well,” he said, adding that when the existing clinic was opened in March 2008, Aspirus had no idea how it would be welcomed by potential patients.
“It’s been a constant uphill trend for us in patient volumes,” Fabich said. “The demand is there. We started talking about three years ago that we needed to plan for what we were going to do in the Rhinelander and surrounding areas to meet our growth needs. This is really part of that. By adding this building, we can expand our specialty service and continue to expand our primary care services.”
Aspirus currently employs about 70 people at the clinic, he noted.
“There will be some employees in that clinic who will go into the new medical office building, there will be some mixing and matching between the two buildings,” Fabich said. “But we’re looking, over time, to probably add an additional 20 employees up there. We’re looking to add another seven providers over the next three to five years, if possible.”
“So we will certainly be employing more nurses, CNAs and clerical people as well,” he added. “We’ll be adding jobs.”
In purchasing the property to build the addition, Aspirus has positioned itself so future building expansion is possible, Fabich noted.
“We’ve got roughly 8 1/2 acres north of the clinic, which is a pretty ample space in which to continue to expand if we decide we want to do that, beyond this new M.O.B. (medical office building),” he said.
The goal is to have the addition project completed by October of 2020.
“We could get ahead of schedule. Our hope is to move in there a little better then October,” Fabich said, adding that he’s hopeful area residents appreciate the new building and what it represents.
“We want people to understand that this is our commitment to the community and to be able to serve the Rhinelander community and surrounding areas,” Fabich said. “We’ve done a lot of planning as to what Aspirus is going to need to do that now, and well into the future, and this particular phase is the start of that for us in this region.”
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at [email protected]